He has a good smile, Brad Jones, warm and wide. His speech flows, too. The combination means that, when Liverpool’s Australian goalkeeper’s fluency stalls, when Jones’s lips close over and he starts breathing through his nostrils, eyes half-closing, the pause is dramatic.

But then Jones pauses when recalling details of the past two years, during which his son, Luca, aged six, died of leukaemia.

It is no forced drama. Jones says he got the transfer of his dreams when he heard Liverpool were interested in the summer of 2010. It coincided with his arrival at the South Africa World Cup with Australia. But it also came alongside the onset of his son’s devastating illness. Jones has led a parallel life ever since.

‘Coming here was the biggest move I could have wished for,’ Jones says at Liverpool’s training ground. ‘Coming to the team I supported from four or five years old, when I got my first kit sent to me in Perth.’

His mother, Karen, is from Merseyside, hence the Liverpool kits and books posted over.

‘At the same time, in my personal life, we were… a shambles. I’d just left the World Cup before it had begun because we’d found out Luca was ill. We didn’t know exactly what was happening or how it happened, what the chances were. So you have one bit of your life on a massive high and another that’s horrendous. That’s where we were. It’s hard.’

It was also just the beginning. When Jones, who was 31 on Tuesday, says ‘we’ he is referring to his partner, Dani, and young son Nico. Jones’s first son, Luca, was born in a previous relationship and lived with his mother in France. The logistics added stress to an inherently draining situation.

Simultaneously, a keeper who had joined Middlesbrough in 2001 but who had been loaned out six times was trying to prove himself worthy of Roy Hodgson’s faith at Anfield.

‘In your head you’re thinking, “I just want to stay with Luca and be with him until he gets better”,’ Jones explains. ‘And I was thinking of, when he does get better, then what will we be doing?

‘That’s when you have to think professionally. Coming to Liverpool was the biggest thing I was ever going to get, it might not come again. So I made the decision that I wanted to come and basically we tried to juggle being here and going to see Luca in France. We did for the first six months.’

Those six months had begun in a hotel room in Johannesburg as Australia prepared for the World Cup. ‘You get a call, then there’s stunned silence,’ he recalls. ‘What do you say apart from, “Are you sure? How do you know?” And then, “OK, I’m coming”.

‘There wasn’t even a decision to be made. I got told, I went. At the time I felt a bit guilty towards my team-mates because I’m close to a lot of them. They took the news really badly and they had a game the day I left. They were hopeless. I watched it on TV at the airport and thought that was because of me.

‘But you can’t be like that, Luca was more important than anything.’

So began a period of travel, anxiety and a search for a stem-cell transplant for Luca. The search was successful, initially.

That search, that worry, is why Jones is speaking on behalf of the Anthony Nolan Trust. He and Dani, a qualified physiotherapist, want to raise awareness of the donor issue. There is an open day at Anfield on March 25.

‘Then in the January (2011) I was called up to the Asia Cup. Just before that, Luca had had his  transplant. Things were looking positive, he’d found a donor. His donor was from a placenta, an umbilical cord, which is the other side of how they can do it with stem cells. So he was fortunate.

‘At that time everything was positive. I went to the Asia Cup with Australia. While I was away Roy was sacked, Kenny (Dalglish) was put in charge and I don’t think Kenny had seen me. I don’t know but I was kind of pushed aside.

‘Anyway, three weeks down the line we got a phone call saying the leukaemia had come back, the transplant hadn’t worked.

Then all this side of it hit home. When leukaemia comes back, you know something’s really wrong. It went from being positive to really worrying. The club were really good. They gave me freedom to do what’s best. I didn’t need to ask.

‘That continued for a few months. Obviously I didn’t play. At the end of that season we were in France the majority of the time. The following season started a bit better. Then the club signed Doni, which was a kick in the teeth.

‘That was hard. Then, not quite halfway through the season, we got the message that there was not much more they could do for Luca. Even if they found another transplant, it wasn’t going to work.

‘Then it was difficult because football did go out of the window.’

After the latest journey to see Luca, Jones and Dani, now pregnant, returned to a phone call that said they should be back over there. ‘We’d booked flights to go the next day but then suddenly it was, “We need to get there now”.

‘We tried everything, private jets, anything, but we couldn’t physically get there that night.

‘We got home — we’d been running around trying to find something. Then we got a phone call saying he’d gone.

‘It doesn’t get any worse. We knew it was coming but it doesn’t prepare you. It doesn’t prepare you.

‘We left the next morning. We were there for the week after, until the funeral. My family flew from Australia. (Managing director) Ian Ayre came from the club, Kenny and (former director of football strategy) Damien Comolli were there. That was nice of them, to have someone representing the club.

‘You go through everything. Anyone who’s lost someone goes through the same, times when you’re really down, feel guilty, you feel you could have done more. But at the end of the day, you couldn’t. You have to deal with it.

‘We probably had Luca for a year longer than expected. He ended up having two birthdays in hospital. After the first one, we weren’t expecting another one. He was really fighting. We knew — he didn’t — that there wasn’t long left. He pushed himself to make sure he got there.’

‘How do you cope?’ Dani asks in reply to the question. ‘I don’t know. You do. People ask us how we can do this kind of stuff, and it is upsetting, really upsetting, talking to people about this kind of stuff. But it would be upsetting not doing it.

‘The past two years were horrific, really hard. In those two years, Brad’s hunger went, we couldn’t concentrate on anything else. Football wasn’t on the radar, how could you concentrate on football and then go to a  cancer ward — not even a ward, a room in isolation — and see that?’

It was November 2011 when Luca died. From June 2010 until then, Jones felt his life was ‘chaos, turmoil’.

Jones adds a professional episode from last season to that, when in the space of five days he made his Liverpool Premier League debut as a substitute against Blackburn at Ewood Park — and saved a penalty with his first touch — then played in the FA Cup semi-final against Everton at Wembley. It was also the week Nico was born.

Saving grace: Jones leaps to his right to deny Yakubu from the spot

Saving grace: Jones leaps to his right to deny Yakubu from the spot

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